Rebuttal of a garbage article on the SM-3 missile


I’ve recently read a garbage DailyCaller article by an NTU Vice President on the Congressional (Defense App Act) termination/defunding of the SM-3 Block IIB program: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/16/senate-appropriators-on-target-with-cost-savings-in-missile-program/

Here’s my rebuttal:

„Given the present fiscal climate, it is more imperative than ever before to heed the advice from former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen and “steward every dollar that we have.” Senate Appropriations Committee members reflected that stewardship by concentrating federal funding in the Defense Appropriations Bill on SM-3 Blocks I-B and II-A.

Lawmakers in both chambers have already missed a key opportunity to follow the wiser course for SM-3; the final compromise version of the Defense Authorization Bill plows ahead with Block II-B. Here’s hoping that Congress will get back on track with the Defense Appropriations Bill, by embracing the Senate Appropriation Committee’s strategy. Our military needs a proven solution that’s on-time, and taxpayers need a reliable project that’s on-budget.”

My response:

Utter garbage from an evidently ignorant guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The SM-3 Block IIB interceptor project is absolutely necessary and there is no alternative to it. But first, before I delve into the technical and military issues involving it, I shall first address the fiscal issue discussed here.

Had the Senate fully funded the Administration’s request for the SM-3BIIB project, it would’ve cost a paltry $123 mn (million, not billion), a tiny fraction of the budgets of the Aegis program and the MDA, let alone the Department of Defense ($518 bn under the Appropriations Act). The claim that it would’ve been a large expense for taxpayers is a blatant lie.

Secondly, there is NO alternative to the Block IIB project. Sepp is comparing apples to oranges. Block IA, IB, and IIA missiles are designed to shoot down short to medium range missiles; Block IIB is intended to shoot down intermediate and long range ballistic missiles, which is a completely different task requiring a different missile to shoot down a totally different class of ballistic missiles. The Block IA, IB and IIA variants will never be up to this task for several reasons, for example, the insufficient speed of their boosters. The Block IIB, on the other hand, would be designed with a sufficient speed to intercept the said classes of missiles, including Chinese DF-21D ASBMs. Concurrently, the Aegis C&C system would be modernized and upgraded to allow it to handle this task.

Because both the Obama Administration and the Congress have refused to spend any more money on any more ground-based interceptors  in the midcourse segment, SM-3 Block IIB would have been America’s only remaining defense against IRBMs and ICBMs, as well as the Navy’s only non-laser defense against anti-ship BMs such as the Chinese DF-21D. By killing this project, the Congress will  eliminate the Navy’s only non-laser defense against these missiles and endanger the country. This is both fiscally and militarily reckless.

The NTU, by advocating the killing of the SM-3 Block IIB project, has once again shown how ignorant it is about both military and fiscal issues. This was not a one-time incident, however; it was part of a trend. The NTU has, for a long time, consistently opposed many crucial equipment and R&D programs that were or are needed to protectAmerica. The Airborne Laser, mentioned by Sepp, is as good an example as any. Costing a few billion dolars over a decade, it has passed 60% of the tests it has undergone and is the only system in the world capable of intercepting BMs in their earliest phase of flight – the boost/ascent phase, when they are most vulnerable. The ABL can locate a target, determine its source and probable destination, and hit its fuel tank before the missile deploys any countermeasures (e.g. decoys). It does have its problems, but the right way to go is to solve these problems, not to terminate this crucial program. The NTU has likewise opposed many other crucial weapon programs in the past, thus helping to weaken America’s defense.

The Crusader and Comanche programs, terminated by Secretary Rumsfeld, were not only badly over budget to the tune of billions of dollars, they were also duplicative: there were (cheaper) alternatives to them. The Crusader has been replaced by the Paladin Improvement  and Modernization program, and the alternatives to the RAH-66 include the AH-6 and the well-armed MH-60. For heavy combat, the military can use, and buy, AH-64 and AH-1 helicopters. There is no alternative to the ABL – or to the SM-3 Block IIB, for that matter.

The Congress is right to fund this crucial program through the NDAA – and this project should be pursued to completion. American citizens and the US military deserve no less.

I repeat: there is NO alternative to the Block IIB missile project. Other variants of the SM-3 cannot intercept IRBMs nor ICBMs.
One more thing. Sepp decries the fact that developing this missile would be a risky, uncertain undertaking. HELLO? EVERY new developmental project, trying anything new, is a risky, uncertain venture. Yet, someone has to do it. Otherwise, technology would never progress forward and we’d still be using stones as our tools. The Wright Brothers’ experiments with flying failed dozens and dozens of times before they finally succeeeded. Had they given up before the first test, or after a few failures, they would’ve never flown any aircraft. The Block IIB missile hasn’t been developed or built, let alone tested, yet, so the claim that it would likely end in failure and overbudget is a ludicrous story. The NTU is trying to kill it before the program can even start.